parenting advice from Care and Feeding.


Care and Feeding is Slate’s parenting advice column. Have a question for Care and Nutrition? Submit it here or post it in the Slate Parenting Facebook Group.

Dear care and nourishment,

My husband and I are the recent parents of a very premature son “Harry”. He was born at just over 25 weeks, and while he’s growing and doing well overall, his lung health will likely be a problem for the rest of his life. This is not uncommon with premature babies, and his healthcare team takes a very proactive course with him. Our families rallied by our side, taking care of our home and our dogs while I had to leave my job, and my husband and I balanced long days visiting our son and being involved in his care.

The problem is my husband’s mother. She’s so caring and involved, and she’s a longtime smoker. The healthcare team told us unequivocally that Harry can’t be beside secondhand smoke, and that once he gets home, anyone who wants to hold him should at least have a fresh shower and not have recently smoked.

We tried to bring this up with her before Harry was born, and anytime my husband or sister asks her to stop it is considered a personal assault on her character and she stops talking to us for a while. time. Then, once the changes are made, there is no change. Is there some way to make her understand that this lifelong habit will prevent her from bonding with her new grandson when the time comes?

– Want a smokeless Mimi

Dear Want a Smokeless Mimi,

Unfortunately, if your mother-in-law’s smoking habit lasts most of her life, you can’t expect to persuade her to quit. She should make this decision on her own, for her own reasons and at her own pace. His smoking habit is not under your control. What you can control is how often your son is in his presence and care.

Let him know that bringing your son to or near his residence, if he has recently smoked, would be against the doctor’s orders. It compromises his health and you are not ready to do it. If you wish, you can mention that the doctor would need his compliance to shower and refrain from smoking before seeing your son. She may find these directions less overwhelming than asking her to quit smoking altogether. Continue to teach him that your son’s health comes first and that second-hand smoke will be detrimental to his health. I wish you and your family the best in crossing a rather difficult border.

Dear care and nourishment,

My mother is passionate about sewerage and crafts. From the moment I announced I was pregnant 9 years ago, she has always been delighted to share these hobbies with her grandchildren. My oldest is now 8 years old and has been to her grandmother’s house for “craft time” about 4 or 5 times in the past few months. I was initially thrilled with the arrangement – it’s free daycare so I could spend time with my youngest child, and I really wanted my mom and daughter to have a good bonding time.

Well… things moved quickly. My daughter hates these craft dates. She says they are long and boring (they last about two hours) and that she hates to sew. I have discussed this with my mom and she says my daughter seems to be doing fine, although she is a bit slow to understand the techniques. I think my daughter is hiding her boredom / dissatisfaction out of politeness.

On the one hand, I want to respect the fact that my daughter isn’t interested in sewing right now, or doesn’t like spending one-on-one time with her grandmother. On the other hand, I think this bonding time is important and kids need to be able to build muscle to endure activities that are not the most fun / entertaining / easy, but important to practice. . My husband and I are torn apart. What should we do?

– Sewing difficulties

Dear sewing fights,

It’s lovely that your mom wants to pass her interests on to your daughter. It’s also great for your daughter to stand up for herself and let you know what she really thinks about sewing and crafting. It is likely that a compromise can be made here. You mentioned that your daughter has taken craft tours 4 to 5 times in the past few months, each lasting two hours. Can we limit these visits to once or twice a month, but to one hour per stay?

The point is, your daughter is 8 years old. Sewing and DIY might not be the most interesting things in the world to her, but you’re right in believing that she can build up a little patience with what she considers a boring task, if it does. her grandmother’s pleasure to spend time with her, teaching her these techniques. She’s old enough to learn what it means to do something selfless for someone she loves.

If you’re inclined to offer another kind of compromise, suggest that your daughter choose an activity that she would like to learn, practice, or share with her grandmother. They can alternate between sewing / crafts and the “more interesting” activity your daughter chooses. They will still spend a lot of time together, but they will learn from each other and hopefully both have fun.

Catching up on care and nutrition

• If you missed Sunday’s column, read it here.
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Dear care and nourishment,

Nine months ago we moved about 30 miles away, still in a large metropolitan area. We moved for a variety of reasons, wanting a bigger house and a bigger yard, and a fresh start to school, mainly for our two oldest children who are now 13 and 11 years old. Our old school system was highly rated, but we had a start with our oldest child, who has ADHD. She struggled in school, and she and we were unhappy academically.

In our new neighborhood, which is also highly rated, our three children are doing very well in school, including our daughter. She’s been off medication for her ADHD since the start of the year and got all A’s and B’s. Needless to say, my husband and I are thrilled.

Here is the problem. Our daughter didn’t make any friends at her new school. She is still very close to her best friend from her old school. She sees her about once a month; I’m going to drive her the 1.5 hour round trip to her friend’s house for sleepovers. She is having a great time but when she comes home she is sad and depressed about our move. She regularly asks me why we decided to move, even though she knows the reasons. She constantly asks to come back to our old neighborhood. I sincerely feel for her. She is shy and does not make friends easily. I have tried to encourage her to make friends at school, but I also have a similar personality to her, and I know how difficult that can be. I told her about our reasons for moving and acknowledged her feelings, while reiterating that we were not going back to our neighborhood.

Should I continue to encourage his friendship with his old friend? The obvious answer to me is yes, but it’s not easy for me to spend 3-4 hours of my weekend driving her back and forth just to get her home feeling depressed and anguished. When she comes home from a sleepover, she’s like a different kid. Does helping her stay so connected to her old friend make her more miserable in the end and interfere with her transition to her new school?

– Mom of a moody college student

Dear MoaMMS,

I sympathize with you and your daughter. It’s always hard to see children struggling socially and not knowing how much to intervene. It’s admirable that you have made a commitment to help her try to maintain a close friendship in your old neighborhood. But round trips of 3 to 4 hours are not sustainable. Eventually, your daughter will have to accept that she now lives too far away to see her best friend as regularly as she wants.

They may try to stay in touch in other ways: writing letters, sending emails, and calling each other via audio or video. Encourage that kind of ongoing connection while phasing out sleepovers. Just be aware that for middle school students, digital-only connections with distant friends can also be overwhelming.

Ultimately, your daughter will need to focus her attention on finding her social place in her new community. You can help him by finding social opportunities other than school: consider joining a church, community group, or after-school program. College students sometimes log in using a shared group identity. Encourage your daughter to try out a few affiliations outside of school to give her multiple opportunities to connect with local children. I wish you the best.

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Dear care and nourishment,

My wife and I have 2 daughters, a 3 year old and a 1 month old. I can’t speak for the baby yet, but our 3 year old is a happy, playful and apparently well adjusted baby girl. My concern is that she has no male influence in her daily life. She has two moms, preschool teachers, swimming and art class teachers, babysitters, and more. Our two families are in the Midwest and we are on the West Coast. So, although she has loving grandfathers and several uncles that she knows well, she only sees them a few times a year. Should we put more effort into including adult males in her life? Or do I see a problem that is not really there? Will it be detrimental to her development (as well as our baby) to live in a world so dominated by women?

– Do you miss men?

Dear men who miss me ?,

If your daughter is happy, socially well-adjusted, and happy, there is no need to immediately change the circle of friends and family you have created for her. As she grows, her health and happiness will continue to be the benchmarks. Seems like at this point her male parents are providing the engagement you describe, when she is able to see them. Maybe she doesn’t need more than that. Gender specific influence is not necessarily a requirement for a healthy education. Love and support are, and it looks like she already has a lot of it.

– Stacia

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